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Porpoising has been a new issue for Formula 1 since the new cars were introduced in 2022.
A huge subject of debate amongst Formula 1 experts and fans, the “porpoising” of the 2022 cars raised a number of concerns. While the new cars were created to make it easier to follow and overtake, one of the unseen consequences was an aerodynamic effect that caused the cars to bounce up and down, sometimes quite violently.
Some teams had it worse than others, depending on specific design choices. The Mercedes, at certain points in the season, was labelled nearly undrivable due to the porpoising effect. Lewis Hamilton actually had to be helped out of his car after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix because of the pain that the bouncing caused.
Once it became a big enough issue, the FIA had to intervene. For 2023, some of the new regulations are aimed at reducing porpoising. On top of some new rules, sensors will be put on the car to monitor porpoising and its effects.
Notably, in the regulations, the height of the car floor edges has been raised by 15mm. This rule will force teams to run higher cars and alleviate the porpoising effects.
Loss of downforce
This regulation will result in a loss of downforce, which will slow the cars down. All the same, the FIA’s single-seater technical director, Nikolas Tombazis, believes it’s the correct thing to do.
“I’ve got no doubt we did the right thing,” said Tombazis. “We tried to find a pragmatic, short-term solution and a medium-term solution. It won’t necessarily dissipate [porpoising] completely, but it will be a step less.”
Tombazis believes that the downforce loss won’t be “too much”, and that teams will likely make up the difference in development.
“I would have thought they’re going to lose about 15 to 20 points of downforce which maybe corresponds to about half a second, or something like that. Maybe. But then of course development will probably exceed that.”
While these measures are expected to help, Tombazis doesn’t necessarily trust that they will fully solve the porpoising issues.
“I think it’s going to be reduced inherently with the changes. But whether exactly we will have gone far enough from the edge of it, or whether we’ll occasionally dip into it, we’ll have to see.”
Feature Image Credit: Joe Portlock – Getty Images